Escape Theory Blog Tour – Playlist

Today, I’m happy to be hosting Margaux Froley who’s here to share her playlist for her new book Escape Theory!

Escape Theory – Playlist

The Escape Theory is a mix of some darker rock music, with the classic love songs Hutch would have liked.
Rill Rill             – Sleigh Bells
3 Birds             – Dead Weather
So Far from Your Weapon     – Dead Weather
Poet                 – Ryan Bingham
Dearest           – Buddy Holly
Love is Strange           – Mickey & Sylvia
Speechless     – Lady Gaga
Fidelity             – Regina Spektor
The Weight      – The Band
Heavy Soul     – The Black Keys

 

Escape Theory Cover

Sixteen-year-old Devon Mackintosh has always felt like an outsider at Keaton, the prestigious California boarding school perched above the Pacific. As long as she’s not fitting in, Devon figures she might as well pad her application to Stanford’s psych program. So junior year, she decides to become a peer counselor, a de facto therapist for students in crisis. At first, it seems like it will be an easy fly-on-the-wall gig, but her expectations are turned upside down when Jason Hutchins (a.k.a. “Hutch”), one of the Keaton’s most popular students, commits suicide. Devon dives into her new role providing support for Hutch’s friends, but she’s haunted by her own attachment to him. The two shared an extraordinary night during their first week freshman year; it was the only time at Keaton when she felt like someone else really understood her. As the secrets and confessions pile up in her sessions, Devon comes to a startling conclusion: Hutch couldn’t have taken his own life. Bound by her oath of confidentiality—and tortured by her unrequited love—Devon embarks on a solitary mission to get to the bottom of Hutch’s death, and the stakes are higher than she ever could have imagined.

 

Interested in learning more? Check out Margaux Froley’s website & twitter!! Plus, add Escape Theory on Goodreads!

Review: Nobody (& Giveaway)

nobodyTitle: Nobody

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Read via: ARC from publisher

There are people in this world who are Nobody. No one sees them. No one notices them. They live their lives under the radar, forgotten as soon as you turn away. 

That’s why they make the perfect assassins.

The Institute finds these people when they’re young and takes them away for training. But an untrained Nobody is a threat to their organization. And threats must be eliminated.

Sixteen-year-old Claire has been invisible her whole life, missed by the Institute’s monitoring. But now they’ve ID’ed her and send seventeen-year-old Nix to remove her. Yet the moment he lays eyes on her, he can’t make the hit. It’s as if Claire and Nix are the only people in the world for each other. And they are—because no one else ever notices them. 

I hadn’t heard much about this book before I accepted it for review, but I knew of the author and the summary sounded awesome. Plus, the fantastic cover didn’t bother me at all (How cool is that?!). After reading Nobody, I find myself having mixed emotions. This is an incredible book, but it is also quite intense to read.

Claire is an adorable character. Yes, I know you are not supposed to use the adjective “adorable” for a teenager, but I’m not sure of a better word to describe her. And I mean this in a good way. The poor girl has lived her life without any real human contact, but she has managed to keep this wonderful sweetness about her. Despite her miserable growing-up years, she still has a beautiful heart and she has not become as bitter as she could be. Nix is pretty much her opposite in a lot of ways. He has suffered tremendously and is likely just a little bit unstable. My heart broke for him again and again throughout this story. I feel like he really needed a mother’s hug.

The premise for this book was fascinating. The author does a great job setting up and explaining the Institute and the abilities that the different characters have. This will sound rather strange, but I kind of want to be a “Nobody.” The things that Claire and Nix can do are incredible, and I love the way they use both their unique abilities and their own character traits to attack the Institute.

Overall, I found Nobody to be an engrossing story with delightful characters, but it also delves into some much deeper issues. I would recommend this book to older teens especially fans of dystopian or light sci-fi. There is definitely some content that may not be appropriate for younger readers, violence/murder, and also, there is a particular scene that may be triggering to people who have dealt with self-injury. However, Jennifer Lynn Barnes has created an intricate, fascinating story filled with memorable characters that is definitely worth reading.

Cover: 4.5
Plot: 3.5
Writing: 3
Personally: 3

Overall:  3.5 out of 5

And thanks to the awesome people of Egmont USA, one lucky winner will get a brand-new hard cover copy of Nobody and a paperback copy of Every Other Day (which sounds really cool!). For more information about either book or their author, check out Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ website here!
*USA/CAN Only

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

CONTEST POLICY 
01. You must be at least 13 years of age to enter.
02. You are not required to follow or spread the word (although both are very much appreciated). You just have to fill out the form.
03. The winner will have 48 hours to respond and claim their prize.
04. Closes for entries on February 18th at midnight.
05. This giveaway is open to US/CAN only.

Review: Nobody (& Giveaway)

nobodyTitle: Nobody

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Read via: ARC from publisher

There are people in this world who are Nobody. No one sees them. No one notices them. They live their lives under the radar, forgotten as soon as you turn away. 

That’s why they make the perfect assassins.

The Institute finds these people when they’re young and takes them away for training. But an untrained Nobody is a threat to their organization. And threats must be eliminated.

Sixteen-year-old Claire has been invisible her whole life, missed by the Institute’s monitoring. But now they’ve ID’ed her and send seventeen-year-old Nix to remove her. Yet the moment he lays eyes on her, he can’t make the hit. It’s as if Claire and Nix are the only people in the world for each other. And they are—because no one else ever notices them. 

I hadn’t heard much about this book before I accepted it for review, but I knew of the author and the summary sounded awesome. Plus, the fantastic cover didn’t bother me at all (How cool is that?!). After reading Nobody, I find myself having mixed emotions. This is an incredible book, but it is also quite intense to read.

Claire is an adorable character. Yes, I know you are not supposed to use the adjective “adorable” for a teenager, but I’m not sure of a better word to describe her. And I mean this in a good way. The poor girl has lived her life without any real human contact, but she has managed to keep this wonderful sweetness about her. Despite her miserable growing-up years, she still has a beautiful heart and she has not become as bitter as she could be. Nix is pretty much her opposite in a lot of ways. He has suffered tremendously and is likely just a little bit unstable. My heart broke for him again and again throughout this story. I feel like he really needed a mother’s hug.

The premise for this book was fascinating. The author does a great job setting up and explaining the Institute and the abilities that the different characters have. This will sound rather strange, but I kind of want to be a “Nobody.” The things that Claire and Nix can do are incredible, and I love the way they use both their unique abilities and their own character traits to attack the Institute.

Overall, I found Nobody to be an engrossing story with delightful characters, but it also delves into some much deeper issues. I would recommend this book to older teens especially fans of dystopian or light sci-fi. There is definitely some content that may not be appropriate for younger readers, violence/murder, and also, there is a particular scene that may be triggering to people who have dealt with self-injury. However, Jennifer Lynn Barnes has created an intricate, fascinating story filled with memorable characters that is definitely worth reading.

Cover: 4.5
Plot: 3.5
Writing: 3
Personally: 3

Overall:  3.5 out of 5

And thanks to the awesome people of Egmont USA, one lucky winner will get a brand-new hard cover copy of Nobody and a paperback copy of Every Other Day (which sounds really cool!). For more information about either book or their author, check out Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ website here!
*USA/CAN Only

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

CONTEST POLICY 
01. You must be at least 13 years of age to enter.
02. You are not required to follow or spread the word (although both are very much appreciated). You just have to fill out the form.
03. The winner will have 48 hours to respond and claim their prize.
04. Closes for entries on February 18th at midnight.
05. This giveaway is open to US/CAN only.

Gilded Wings Blog Tour – Inside the Writer’s Studio

Today, I’m happy to be hosting Amy Lignor, author of Gilded Wings: Angel Chronicles, Book 2.

Inside the Writer’s Studio…with Matthew!

“One of my most favorite shows on television is “Inside the Actor’s Studio.” This is a show that’s presented to students of the Actor’s Studio Drama School at Pace University. I know there are a ton of interviews with celebrities but the host, James Lipton, uses a slow pace and makes these people who everyone is so bedazzled by seem like the regular, normal humans they are. At the end of the show, Lipton asks his guest ten questions that they have to answer for the audience.

I thought about what Matthew would say in a situation such as this because he likes to be talkative and outgoing; whereas Emily is more sedate and really likes to get out of a situation where the spotlight is on her just as fast as angelically possible. So, today, we’re going to sit down with Matthew and see what he has to say…”

_____

Host: Matthew, thank you for being here today.

M: You betcha! This is fun!

Host: Being a warrior must be an extremely difficult job, seeing as that you have to save everyone all the time. Don’t you ever think about having some time off?

M: Well, James… Can I call you James?

Host: Of course.

M: I actually really love the battle part of the whole thing. I mean, I’m basically the protection detail, whereas Emily really has the hardest part of the whole gig because she has to listen, interpret, find solutions – the really tough stuff. And she’ll never take a vacation, so my work never stops.

Host: You must have a great partnership. Is she at all hard to work with?

M: Well…we do have a great partnership. It’s been a long time since we first made our ‘appearance’ down here, and even though we’ve gone through some rough spots, to say the least, we’re still able to get the job done that we need to do.

Host: But…is she hard to work with?

M: James, it’s not your fault, because you really don’t know how we’re linked. But Emily can hear everything I say…and she’s really good with a sword when we head into the pit and battle things out. So, let’s just sya she’s strong, caring, has a big heart and (his voice drops down to a whisper) a big mouth when it comes to her sarcasm.

(Slap! Matthew’s head flies forward)

M: Ouch! See? I told you she could hear me. (He clears his throat.) By the way, you should know that she can open the gates of hell if she really wants to.

Host: (Perspiration breaks out on Lipton’s forehead.) Ready to move on to the questions?

M: I think it’s safer!

Host: What is your favorite word?

M: Beginning. I love the start of new things.

Host: What is your least favorite word?

M: Ending. When things are over, you always want to go back and change something you did.

Host: What turns you on?

M: (answers way too fast) Emily. (slap) OW! FINE! Umm…I love Dutch Apple Pie – that was a seriously great creation.

Host: What turns you off?

M: Being slapped in the back of the head.

Host: I bet… What sound or noise do you love?

M: It’s probably because of the job, but the acoustics are really good in Gabriel’s classroom, so when the swords clash, the sound is wicked cool.

Host: What sound or noise do you hate?

M: Crying. I wish people didn’t have to.

Host: What is your favorite curse word?

M: Ahh, James? We’re not allowed to do that. It’s against policy.

Host: Right, sorry. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

M: A Locomotive Engineer would be cool. I want to wear one of those caps and pull the cord that makes the train whistle.

Host: What profession would you not like to do?

M: Angel. Like I said…her job is tough.

Host: If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

M: IF? Okay, well, Gabe and Mike are the ones we actually see when we head home, but I would like Him to hand me a piece of that Dutch Apple Pie and say: Good job! Now, get ready to do it again!

Host: Thank you for joining us today, Matthew. It was really great to meet you.

M: You bet! (Matthew looks around the room) I think Emily is your next guest so…good luck with that, James!

Host: (sighs) Yeah, thanks a lot…

Until Next Time, Everybody,

Amy

 

Thank you for that delightful interview, and now I do have an excerpt to share as well.

 

“Maxmillian Carrow. He’s the first born son of Mitchell Carrow, who is the great man who owns this house and everything in it.”

Anya nodded. “Drew told me about him.”

“Well, that’s why I’m here, darlin’, to fill in the blanks before you meet them in the mornin’.”

“Why would you want to do that?” 

“My mother always said it was wise to know who your friends are.”

Anya walked slowly to the bed, perching herself against the polished brass frame. Hope leaned against the headboard and arranged the large, white pillows as if she was making herself comfortable for a bedtime story to come.

“First, of course, there is me,” she said, batting her eyelashes. “My family went West and I came East. We were always a little different—me and the clan.”

“Your whole family survived your war, then?”

The violet eyes turned a shade of gray. “Yes, thank goodness. I was just a baby, ‘course. But with the carpetbaggers, and Reconstruction being the nightmare it was, our lovely Georgia was gone. Once the Yankees took it over it was the end for the likes of us.”

Anya looked up at the woman, trying with all her might to sound educated. She felt like she was back in school, waiting for the lecturer to stare down at her with a look of disgust. “I’m sorry…but I do not understand carpetbaggers, Yankees, this Reconstruction…” Her voice faded.

Be sure to enter the giveaway and continue to follow the rest of the blog tour for more great excerpts!

a Rafflecopter giveawayLinky HTML embed code (complete listing of links for read along blog tour stops):

For more information about Amy Lignor & the Angel Chronicles check out the links below!

The Angel Chronicles
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Goodreads

Amy Lignor

Twitter
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Cover Reveal – Free Souls by Susan Quinn

Today I’m delighted to share with you the cover of Susan Quinn’s upcoming book, Free Souls!

I love the Mindjack trilogy, and I’m sad to see it come to an end. However, I must admit I’m dying to read Free Souls!

But without further ado…..

Free Souls by Susan Kaye Quinn

(Book Three of the Mindjack Trilogy) Now Available!
When your mind is a weapon, freedom comes at a price.

Four months have passed since Kira left home to join Julian’s Jacker Freedom Alliance, but the hole in her heart still whistles empty where her boyfriend Raf used to be. She fills it with weapons training, JFA patrols, and an obsessive hunt for FBI agent Kestrel, ignoring Julian’s worries about her safety and repeated attempts to recruit her for his revolutionary chat-casts. When anti-jacker politician Vellus surrounds Jackertown with the National Guard, Kira discovers there’s more to Julian’s concerns than she knew, but she’s forced to take on a mission that neither want and that might be her last: assassinating Senator Vellus before he can snuff out Julian’s revolution and the jackers she’s come to love.
All of the Mindjack stories are available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Kobo, and iTunes
(Note Free Souls is not yet available on Kobo or iTunes)

Early Praise for Free Souls

“Quinn paints a picture of a not-too-distant America where politicians inflame the hatred of one section of the populace for another—all for their own gain—and you worry that her world is not so far off from our own.”
Dianne Salerni, author of We Hear the Dead, The Caged Graves, and the forthcoming The Eighth Day
Free Souls starts with a bang and doesn’t let up. Like a mash-up of all your favorite science-fiction adventures from Star Wars to The Legend of Korra, it blends nonstop action, nail-biting escapes, and great romance. I absolutely loved it! A great series conclusion—a must-read.”
Leigh Talbert Moore, author of Rouge and The Truth About Faking
“Susan did it again. Free Souls was WOW! I expected Kira to step up to her role as heroine but not like this. Surprises kept coming until the very end which tied up more loose ends than I knew existed. Warning: Don’t start reading until you have time to finish. I didn’t want to put Free Souls down for a second. It’s that kind of book.”
Sher A. Hart, Goodreads Review

Interview
Susan’s over at Amy Saunder’s blog today (12.14.12), answering questions about how she came up with the mages’ abilities, what kind of mage she would be, and all about her future works.

Digital Box Set
Since Free Souls is out, there is now a Digital Box Set of the Mindjack Trilogy for those of you who want the whole series!

Available on AmazonBarnes&Noble

Mindjack Origins Collection
Want more Julian? Wondering how Sasha’s ability really works? Looking for EXCLUSIVE DELETED SCENES from Free Souls? This collection of novellas, scenes, and other goodies is for those craving a bit more of the characters and drama of the Mindjack series.

Includes:

Mindjack Novellas
Mind Games (Raf’s story)
The Handler (Julian’s story)
The Scribe (Sasha’s story)

TWO EXCLUSIVE DELETED SCENES from Free Souls (published nowhere else!)

PLUS Mindjack flash fiction, an (imaginary) conversation between Raf and Julian, and other goodies for readers who want just a little bit more of Kira, Julian, Raf, and the Mindjack crew.

Available on AmazonBarnes&Noble
ENTER TO WIN
one of FIVE ecopies of the Mindjack Origins Collection

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Add it on Goodreads or Amazon!!
And visit the Mindjack website for more info!

Read my reviews of Open Minds (Mindjack #1) and Closed Hearts (Mindjack #2).

Review: The Color of Snow

Title: The Color of Snow

Author: Brenda Stanley

Read via: eARC from Tribute Books

Can a troubled young girl reenter society after living in isolation?
When a beautiful 16-year-old girl named Sophie is found sequestered in a cage-like room in a rundown house in the desolate hills of Arbon Valley, Idaho, the entire community is shocked to learn she is the legendary Callidora–a baby girl who was kidnapped from her crib almost seventeen years ago and canonized in missing posters with portraits of what the fabled girl might resemble. Authorities soon learn that the cage was there to protect people from Sophie, because her biological father believes she is cursed.
Sophie is discovered after the man she knows as Papa, shoots and injures Damien, a young man who is trying to rescue her. Now, unsocialized and thrust into the world, and into a family she has never met, Sophie must decide whether she should accept her Papa’s claims that she is cursed and he was only trying to protect others, or trust the new people in her life who have their own agendas. Guided by a wise cousin, Sophie realizes that her most heartbreaking challenge is to decide if her love for Damien will destroy him like her Papa claims, or free her from past demons that haunt her mind.

The Color of Snow intrigued me from the moment I read the summary. It reminded me a little bit of The Face on the Milk Carton, which has always fascinated me. The challenges faced by someone who has been kidnapped or suffered a forced seclusion are unbelievable. These types of stories make for characters that are perhaps more complex and layered than those in typical stories. This is definitely the case with The Color of Snow.

From the beginning, it is hard not to feel sympathetic for Sophie (well, Callidora). Her world is turned completely upside-down, and she is faced with a world she does not really understand. Her upbringing makes Sophie a rather naive character for the first part of the book, which made her seem younger than she was. This frustrated me at times, but I do believe it’s a realistic characterization. I liked the relationships between Sophie, Damien, and his brother, and it broke my heart the way Sophie’s father sought to destroy her connection with them. Sophie’s family was also fantastically drawn. The variety and depth of her relatives continually surprised me.

Throughout the story, the reader is kept guessing as to whether or not Sophie’s father is crazy or if Sophie is really cursed. The story thrives on discovery, and the pacing is absolutely fantastic. The book flips between past and present, creating many cliffhangers, which makes it extremely hard to put down. Sometimes the changes of place and time will make a story feel choppy, but it works perfectly here. The story flows seamlessly from one part to the next.

Overall, The Color of Snow is a unique, thoughtful read that keeps you on your toes throughout. It is full of both mystery and heart with characters that are hard to forget. Anyone who enjoys a good, dramatic read with a touch of romance and family struggles will likely enjoy this. As I mentioned above, those who enjoyed The Face on the Milk Carton will find this to be equally compelling.

Cover: 4
Plot: 3.5
Writing: 3
Personally: 3

Overall: 3.3 out of 5

About the Author

Brenda Stanley is former television news anchor and investigative reporter for the NBC affiliate in Eastern Idaho.  She has been recognized for her writing by the Scripps Howard Foundation, the Hearst Journalism Awards, The Idaho Press Club and the Society for Professional Journalists.  She is a graduate of Dixie College in St. George, Utah and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.  She is the mother of 5 children, including two sets of twins.  Brenda and her husband Dave, a veterinarian, live on a small ranch near the Snake River with their horses and dogs.

Website // Twitter // Facebook 

One Moment Blog Tour – Character Interview

I had the fantastic opportunity to interview Maggie of One Moment by Kristina McBride, and I’m happy to be sharing her answers with you!

1. What is your favorite memory with your friends? Fourth of July last year . . . before everything that was perfect got so screwed up. We were at the lake and spent the whole day in the sun, then the evening around the bonfire until the fireworks started.
2. How do you think that Joey’s death affected the dynamic between you and your friends? Joey dying took everything that I thought knew in my life and destroyed it. Especially things between me and my friends.
3. After everything that happened, how do you feel when looking back at your relationship with Joey? Sad. And scared. Because you can think you know someone – like, really know them – and you can be completely wrong. But then, sometimes I can push all of that away and Joey’s just Joey. The Joey I’ve spent most of my life loving. I guess it’s all mixed up.
4. If you could go back in time and change the past would you? Yes. I would change everything that happened that day on the top of the cliff. Joey would be alive. And everything would be okay.
5. Do you have any plans for after graduation? College. As much as I love my little town, it’s time for me to move on.

 

Thanks, Maggie!

Blog Tour – Guest Post – Jolene Perry

Sometimes a story is more personal than you expect it to be.
I read an article in an online newspaper that talked about the YA books coming out that year which dealt with abusive relationships.
I’d part mapped one out a while back, and thought maybe I’d work on it – all evidence that the market had just gotten an influx of them didn’t sway me the way it should have…
The more I wrote in the story, the more personal it became.
I was not ever hit by my boyfriend in high school. He never screamed and yelled at me – though I heard him trashing his room a few times when I left after an argument, and he didn’t hesitate to show me when he was pissed about something.
He’d pick fights with me over the phone and hang up, knowing it meant I’d sneak out to “straighten things out.”
There was one really horrible night with him that I’d blocked from my mind for a long time, that I remembered when I was writing, so I used it.
I see these cases my husband talks about with women who are beaten and bruised and making up excuses and going back over and over. One ended in murder a couple of weeks ago. A case my husband will be prosecuting when it goes to trial.
The abuse story I told is nowhere near that dramatic, but so much of Ronnie’s story was mine. WAY more than I realized while I was writing it. When I got to the end, and started writing down the parts of her story that were real (I always do this for my author site), I realized more and more how much of me was in that girl.
I stared at my computer screen in shock.
I had one of my best friends, who was a guy, who I shared more with than I probably did to most of my girlfriends – (like Luke from Knee Deep) and a boyfriend I’d known since I was a kid (like Shawn from Knee Deep) And I felt this draw to my boyfriend, only because I’d known him for so long, not because we really had anything left in common.
I felt more like I was stuck in this relationship, and didn’t even realize I didn’t want to be there until I visited a friend in college and saw how much more LIFE was out there. It was just that the idea of this one person had been in my head for way too long.
And where did I end up? Married to the best friend.
People talk about writing what you know, and then talk about keeping yourself out of your books. But you know what? I KNEW that situation – and I know I’ll get some bad reviews (like you always  do – ESPECIALLY when you tackle a tough topic) that are going to say that Ronnie’s actions weren’t believable.
But here’s the thing – I told her story, the best way I knew how. Ronnie’s reactions with pieces of my truth. And there are some drastic differences, but there are also some startling similarities. So, to me, Ronnie’s actions were completely and totally understandable.
And that’s the story of how Knee Deep came to be.

 

Knee Deep Excerpt
My front door opens. “Hello?” Shawn calls.
“In here!” I say back. Suddenly this feels weird. Why would this feel weird? This is just what happens when one of us is stuck at home. Why would today be any different? But my heart’s beating against the inside of my ribs, trying to tell me this is different.
      Luke scoots away from the couch. Does he feel it too? That maybe him and me hanging out alone for the day might not have been the best idea?
      Shawn steps through the hallway and scowls when his eyes meet mine and then pass to Luke. This shouldn’t be a big deal. Except…I’m      so stupid. I was just thinking how I needed to make Shawn’s life outside of his house less stressful, and part of me knew it was weird that Luke was here without Shawn. I thought it, and did nothing. But again, it is just Luke.
“What’re you doing here?” Shawn asks. His dark eyes fix on Luke.
“I figured you’d be here, man.” Luke stands up. “It’s like we always ditch together, right?” 
Romeo and Juliet kissing in the pool on the TV screen probably isn’t helping anything. Maybe Shawn won’t notice, or maybe it’s just sending my heart into crazy flutters because this tension between Shawn and Luke and, I guess, me, is happening during the most romantic scene of the movie.
“Uh, I don’t know.” Shawn’s still scowling, his brows pulled low and his jaw tight.
“You would’ve hated it,” I say. My eyes catch his, but his are as black as his mood seems to be. I’m so stupid. Why did I have to let Luke stay?
“Yeah, maybe.” Shawn’s narrowed eyes go from Luke to me, back and forth, as if judging the situation. Really? What did he think could possibly happen between Luke and I? Even if this is suddenly on my top three ‘most awkward moments’ ever. I can’t even think about what the other two might be. Maybe I’ve just found number one.
“Romeo and Juliet all day.” Luke laughs, but I know him well enough to see he’s trying really hard to be relaxed. His shoulders are too stiff, and his normal stance is too rigid. I wonder if Shawn sees it too. “Guess I’ll leave you two alone.” Luke’s trying hard to keep his voice light.
“Yeah.” Shawn has yet to return Luke’s smile. “I almost never see my girl anymore.” 
It’s like I’m on the edge of my seat, tension pinpricking every part of me. I’ve never seen Shawn like this.
“Well, I should get my ass to rehearsal anyway.” Luke gives Shawn a friendly pat on the shoulder before heading outside. 
      I don’t watch him go. My eyes are on Shawn, trying to figure out what to expect next.
“What the hell was that?” His sharp gaze is now pointed directly at me.
      I stand up and lean to the side, trying to be relaxed. “It didn’t seem like a big deal this morning.” Maybe if I play it off as nothing Shawn won’t be so mad. He knows Luke and I are friends. No big deal, I tell myself again. But I don’t know if I’m trying to convince myself or Shawn.
“Was he here when we were texting?” he asks. His voice may be low, but not in a good way. It’s low in a way that makes him sound like he’s past the edge of reasonable anger.
      My body’s screaming for me to take a step back, which makes no sense. This is Shawn. My Shawn. “No.” But I’m weakening by the second, almost shaking inside. His jaw tightens again.
      My eyes close as I remember, and dread fills my chest. “He got here as I sent my last one.” Is that bad? Good?
“And you didn’t think to tell me? What the hell is that?”
I jump at the sharpness of his voice. Shawn doesn’t need this stress. I know this. I reach forward to put my arms around him. We just need to hold one another for a minute, then it’ll all be fine.
      He stops me, grabbing my arm—hard—just above my wrist.
“This is not okay.” His jaw is set.
“Hey.” My voice shakes. My body shakes. I’m actually scared of Shawn for the first time ever. I jerk my hand once, but he tightens his grip…impossibly tight. My lungs can’t pull in a breath; there’s just not enough air in the room anymore. “Shawn, you’re hurting me.” He can’t mean to hurt me. He can’t.
      His face is stuck in a sharp scowl.
“He’s your friend.” My voice is crying. I want to try and pull my shaky arm out of his grasp again, but I’m afraid to; he’s squeezing so hard. Tears are hot against the back of my eyes, threatening to spill over. 
“How would you feel if I spent all day with some chick?” The words come out as angry spit from between his teeth. 
      I open my mouth to answer but can’t, the lump in my throat has taken over. All I can think about is that I need to find something to say so he’ll let me go. Some way to get the air through my throat to form words. “It’s just Luke,” I plead, sucking in a breath.
“Whatever.” He throws my arm back at me, turns, and walks out the door, slamming it hard behind him. My body jumps at the sound.
      I stumble backward onto the couch. I’m like a leaf battered about in the wind. Nothing’s working right. I need to sit. Normally I’d run after him, but I have no idea what to expect. And I’m afraid. Of Shawn.
      He’s never been that way before. Ever. He’s moody and particular, but this seems…extreme. I’m cradling my wrist with my other hand, afraid to look at any possible damage. It hurts to move it. What just happened here? How did it happen?
      It’s like there suddenly must be something fundamentally wrong with the universe. But the TV’s still on. My house looks normal and quiet. I’m still breathing, but Shawn, my Shawn, just hurt me. Lying down seems so anti-climactic, but I can’t bring myself to do anything else. 
  When Juliet realizes Romeo’s dying the sobs take over, and I pull my knees to my chest as if making myself smaller will somehow dull the pain. 
      It doesn’t.

Ahhh, I cannot wait to read the book now! Thanks for the fantastic post and excerpt.

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Review: Tempest Unleashed

Title: Tempest Unleased

Series: Tempest #2

Author: Tracy Deebs

Read via: Net Galley // Teen Book Scene

Tempest Maguire is happy with her decision to embrace her mermaid nature and live among her mother’s clan within the ocean’s depths. Even though training to one day ascend the throne for the aging mermaid queen is rigorous, she finds refuge in the arms of Kona, the selkie who first opened her up to her mermaid side. But when word comes that one of her brothers has been gravely injured on land, Tempest immediately rushes to his side—which also brings her back to her old flame, Mark. And in her absence, a deadly battle begins raging at the hands of Tempest’s old nemesis, the sea witch Tiamat. As the dangerous war erupts, Tempest’s two loves—Kona and Mark, sea and land—will collide for the first time, both to protect her and to force her to choose.

I was nervous about this one going in, since the cover just does not do it for me. I am sorry to say, but to me, it looks like something done with MS Paint, and the color of the font just clashes. Since I did enjoy Tempest Rising so much though, I decided I would like to read this one despite the disappointing visual. Sadly, while there were some aspects of the story that I enjoyed, overall I found this to be somewhat of a letdown.

Tempest becomes a difficult character for me to like in this story. I understand that her life has become even more difficult than it had been previously, but I found her coming across as selfish and immature. This was especially evident in her romantic life. I hated the love triangle that was redeveloped in this book. It had worked fairly well in Tempest Rising, but here it just made me dislike Tempest. She kept stringing along both guys, and repeatedly cheating on one or the other. I actually liked both boys, and I felt very sorry for them. I also still enjoyed Tempest’s family, and I was disappointed that they appeared so infrequently.

The story starts off rather slowly. There are a lot of details about Tempest’s mermaid life, but it does not seem like a whole lot truly happens. There are a couple of action moments, but then things would just die back down. Once the drama really starts to happen the book moves by quickly, but it takes a bit of work to get to that point. I did enjoy Tempest’s struggle to understand and control her abilities, which were very cool. The battle between Tiamat and Tempest was probably one of the highlights of the book.

Overall, I was very disappointed in Tempest Unleashed. I had thoroughly enjoyed the story built up in Tempest Rising, but I hated where things went with this book. There have been many readers who enjoyed this book, however, so perhaps this was just not for me. Sadly, I doubt I will be reading anymore books that journey into Tempest’s world. Personally, I would recommend just reading the first book in the series.

Cover: 2
Plot: 3
Writing: 2.5
Personally: 3

Overall: 2.6 out of 5

Review: Spectral

Title: Spectral

Author: Shannon Duffy

Read via: eARC provided by Tribute Books

Convinced she’s a part of the witness protection program, sixteen-year-old Jewel Rose is shuffled around the globe with her family like a pack of traveling gypsies. After arriving at lucky home twenty-seven, she stumbles upon a mysterious boy with magical powers claiming to be her guardian . . . and warning of imminent danger. Despite the obvious sparks between them, Jewel discovers a relationship is forbidden, and the more she learns about dark, brooding Roman, she begins to question who she can even believe—the family who raised her, or the supposed sworn protector who claims they’ve been lying to her all along.
As she struggles to uncover who her family has really been running from, she is forced to hide her birthmark that reveals who she is. With new realities surfacing, unexplained powers appearing, and two tempting boys vying for her heart, Jewel battles to learn who she can trust in an ever growing sea of lies, hoping she’ll make it through her seventeenth birthday alive.

The stunning cover is what initially caught my attention with this book, however, the summary is what made me really want to read it. It sounded absolutely intriguing! I love stories of magic, and the summary mentioned the word gyspies (even as a comparison, I was fascinated). I was very excited when I was offered the chance to review this for Tribute Books, and I jumped at the chance. I will admit that Spectral did not quite live up to my expectations, but it was an enjoyable read.

Jewel is a sympathetic character from the start. She has been moved around her entire life, and has never had the opportunity to make any type of actual friends. There is one bright spot in her world, her younger brother. I am a sucker for good sibling bonds, and this one does not disappoint. Jayden is an adorable little boy, and I loved the fact that Jewel was always willing to put him first. No matter what was happening to her, she always thought about what effect it would have on him. The relationship between the two of them was definitely one of my favorite parts of the book. I was also a big fan of Jewel’s first new friend, Taylor. I enjoyed her as a character, and I wish that I’d had the chance to get to know her better. Despite the fact that the relationship between Taylor and Jewel did not feel adequately developed, I did enjoy reading about the friendship they shared. Jewel’s two love interests, however, were low spots in the story for me. Both boys lacked any depth. Chase was just this knight-in-shining-armor, golden boy, and Roman was the mysterious “bad boy”. They were very cliched roles, and their respective interests in Jewel felt alarmingly like cases of insta-love.

The story started off a little slow for me, but the action begins to pick up about a quarter of the way through. By the halfway point, I will admit that I was completely sucked into the story. The mythology of the Spectral was intriguing, although I felt the reveal was rather anticlimatic. I appreciated the way the author took the idea of witches and added her own spin to it. The mystery element was a bit predictable, but I liked seeing the way things played out. I would like to go more in-depth about my appreciation for certain character twists, but I don’t want to give anything away.

Overall, this book was a little bit disappointing. Witches remain one of my favorite supernatural creatures, so perhaps my expectations of stories containing them are just higher than stories with other supernatural beings. I did like the basic idea of the story, but the way it was executed was, at times, underwhelming. The romantic elements of the book were definitely my least favorite parts, since they felt unrealistic. I will say that this is a fun, exciting story though, and I think it was worth the read.

Cover: 3.5
Plot: 3
Writing: 3
Personally: 3

Overall: 3.1 out of 5

Buy It: Kindle // Nook
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